Several Turkish soldiers were killed by Syrian government forces shelling and Russian aerial bombardment in Syria’s last rebel-held province of Idlib late on Thursday.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is holding an urgent meeting with security officials following the reports of attacks on Turkish troops in Idlib, Tele1 news site said.
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) also called for an urgent central committee meeting on the issue.
Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad have made major advances in Idlib recently.Twentyone Turkish soldiers were killed this month by Syrian shelling in the region and almost one million people have flocked to areas near the Turkish border, fleeing the Syrian government advance on the region.
Turkey started transferring tanks and troops to areas in Idlib seized by Syrian forces since the end of December.
The attacks on Turkish troops in Idlib followed recapture of the strategic town of Saraqeb from the Syrian army by Syrian rebels backed by the Turkish military.
“The city of Saraqeb has been liberated completely from [Syrian President Bashar] Assad’s gangs,” Naji Mustafa, a spokesman for a Turkey-backed coalition of rebel factions, the National Liberation Front, said in a statement reported by Reuters. Other rebel sources also confirmed the advance to Reuters.
It is the first significant reverse for the Russian-backed Syrian army in its campaign to retake the last rebel-held Idlib region in Syria. The armed opposition had lost the key northwestern town three weeks ago.
Saraqeb is situated at the junction of a major highway linking the region to the Mediterranean, and the M5 highway, Syria’s main north-south road, linking the capital of Damascus and its second largest city of Aleppo.
01:05 – Turkish authorities launch investigation into several social media accounts
Turkish authorities have launched an investigation into several Turkish social media accounts over their criticism of the government after the attack.
Some 91 accounts so far are being investigated over their reactions to today’s crisis.